- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 30, 2015

BALTIMORE — Baltimore officials pleaded for patience and calm as angry demonstrators demanded answers Thursday amid new revelations about a black man who suffered fatal injuries while in police custody.

The Baltimore Police Department completed its investigation of the April 19 death of Freddie Gray and delivered its findings Thursday to the city’s top prosecutor, State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby. Those findings include a previously undisclosed stop by the police officers transporting Gray and an injury on the back of his head matching a bolt inside the police van, according to several news reports.

Ms. Mosby, as well as Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, called for peace while she reviews the investigative report and decides whether to file charges against any of the six police officers involved in arresting and transporting Gray on April 12. His spinal cord nearly severed, Gray died a week later of his injuries.

“We are not relying solely on their findings but rather the facts that we have gathered and verified. We ask for the public to remain patient and peaceful and to trust the process of the justice system,” Ms. Mosby said in a statement.

At a press conference, Police Commissioner Anthony Batts took no questions and provided no details about the report, which he said represents the work of more than 30 investigators.

Residents of the struggling Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood in West Baltimore, where Gray lived and was arrested, expressed suspicion over the secrecy and relatively slow pace of the investigation of his death.

“My concern is, like, they’re hiding something,” said Brice Peterson, 52, who lives in Gray’s neighborhood. “They got people on the edge. What’s going on? Who’s at fault?”

Scores of protesters marched Thursday in the streets of downtown Baltimore — as well as in Philadelphia and New York — to voice outrage over Gray’s death and those of other unarmed black men by police around the country in recent months. The protests in Baltimore followed rioting on Monday that resulted in hundreds of arrests, dozens of burned-out cars and buildings and serious injuries to several police officers — the worst unrest in the city in nearly 50 years.

A 10 p.m.-to-5 a.m. citywide curfew remains in effect, and protest organizers have called for massive demonstrations on Saturday.

On Thursday, a portion of the investigative findings leaked to The Washington Post alleged that Gray intentionally injured himself in the police van. A fellow detainee being transported with Gray said he slammed himself against the van’s interior, The Post reported.

But that man came forward Thursday and disputed that account in an interview with Baltimore TV station WJZ, saying he told police he had heard “a little banging” but that they distorted his account into absurdity. Donta Allen said he sought out WJZ in an attempt to save his life from retaliation.

“And they [were] trying to make it seem like I told them that — [that] I made it like Freddie Gray did that to himself,” Mr. Allen said. “Why the [expletive] would he do that to himself?”

In addition, Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Davis revealed that the van carrying Gray to the police station made a previously undisclosed stop that was captured on video by a “privately owned camera.”

A grocery store owner told The Associated Press later Thursday that it was his closed-circuit security camera that provided the recording. Speaking in Korean, Jung Hyun Hwang said officers came in last week to make a copy, and that the only other copy was stolen, along with his video equipment, when looters destroyed his store Monday night.

Mr. Jung told the AP that he didn’t see what the recording showed of the police van on April 12.

City officials have declined to release Gray’s preliminary autopsy. Commissioner Batts said an autopsy indicated Gray died of a spinal injury, but the medical examiner was still awaiting a toxicology report and a spinal expert’s analysis before issuing a final report.

Gray, 25, died in a West Baltimore hospital one week after being arrested. Police said they pursued and apprehended him after he “made eye contact” with one officer and ran away. Cellphone videos of Gray’s arrest showed him crying out in pain as he was being placed into a police van.

Officials later said that Gray was handcuffed and his legs shackled, but he was not placed in a seat belt in the van — an apparent violation of police procedures. The six officers involved in his arrest and transport have been suspended with pay during the investigation.

For some who live in Gray’s neighborhood, the lack of answers, transparency and swift action is frustrating — and another example of the police wronging their community.

Some residents, such as Tobias Sellers, 60, are no strangers to police profiling and are accustomed to being on the receiving end of verbal and physical abuse. The lack of respect police have for civilians, they say, is the reason that there is so much animosity between the community and those who are supposed to protect it.

Mr. Sellers recounted the day he saw a drug dealer getting arrested by a police officer. The officer, who was taking money from the dealer’s pockets, tried to ward off his curious gaze with a verbal attack, he said.

“He said, ‘What the [expletive] are you looking at? Get the hell on down the street,’” Mr. Sellers said. “I mean, really, that’s robbery. I don’t care how you look at it, that’s robbery.”

⦁ This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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